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Molecular chaperones of the endoplasmic reticulum promote hepatitis C virus E2 protein production in plants

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Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most common cancers. Therefore, vaccines against HCV are under intense study in order to prevent HCV from harming people's health. The envelope protein 2 (E2) of HCV is thought to be a promising vaccine candidate because it can directly bind to a human cell receptor and plays a role in viral entry. However, the E2 protein production in cells is inefficient due to its complicated matured structure. Folding of E2 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is often error-prone, resulting in production of aggregates and misfolded proteins. These incorrect forms of E2 are not functional because they are not able to bind to human cells and stimulate antibody response to inhibit this binding. This study is aimed to overcome the difficulties of HCV E2 production in plant system. Protein folding in the ER requires great assistance from molecular chaperones. Thus, in this study, two molecular chaperones in the ER, calreticulin and calnexin, were transiently overexpressed in plant leaves in order to facilitate E2 folding and production. Both of them showed benefits in increasing the yield of E2 and improving the quality of E2. In addition, poorly folded E2 accumulated in the ER may cause stress in the ER and trigger transcriptional activation of ER molecular chaperones. Therefore, a transcription factor involved in this pathway, named bZIP60, was also overexpressed in plant leaves, aiming at up-regulating a major family of molecular chaperones called BiP to assist protein folding. However, our results showed that BiP mRNA levels were not up-regulated by bZIP60, but they increased in response to E2 expression. The Western blot analysis also showed that overexpression of bZIP60 had a small effect on promoting E2 folding. Overall, this study suggested that increasing the level of specific ER molecular chaperones was an effective way to promote HCV E2 protein production and maturation.

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Date Created
2011

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Developmental plasticity: the influence of neonatal diet and immune challenges on carotenoid-based ornamental coloration and adult immune function in mallard ducks

Description

Conditions during development can shape the expression of traits at adulthood, a phenomenon called developmental plasticity. In this context, factors such as nutrition or health state during development can affect current and subsequent physiology, body size, brain structure, ornamentation, and

Conditions during development can shape the expression of traits at adulthood, a phenomenon called developmental plasticity. In this context, factors such as nutrition or health state during development can affect current and subsequent physiology, body size, brain structure, ornamentation, and behavior. However, many of the links between developmental and adult phenotype are poorly understood. I performed a series of experiments using a common molecular currency - carotenoid pigments - to track somatic and reproductive investments through development and into adulthood. Carotenoids are red, orange, or yellow pigments that: (a) animals must acquire from their diets, (b) can be physiologically beneficial, acting as antioxidants or immunostimulants, and (c) color the sexually attractive features (e.g., feathers, scales) of many animals. I studied how carotenoid nutrition and immune challenges during ontogeny impacted ornamental coloration and immune function of adult male mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). Male mallards use carotenoids to pigment their yellow beak, and males with more beaks that are more yellow are preferred as mates, have increased immune function, and have higher quality sperm. In my dissertation work, I established a natural context for the role that carotenoids and body condition play in the formation of the adult phenotype and examined how early-life experiences, including immune challenges and dietary access to carotenoids, affect adult immune function and ornamental coloration. Evidence from mallard ducklings in the field showed that variation in circulating carotenoid levels at hatch are likely driven by maternal allocation of carotenoids, but that carotenoid physiology shifts during the subsequent few weeks to reflect individual foraging habits. In the lab, adult beak color expression and immune function were more tightly correlated with body condition during growth than body condition during subsequent stages of development or adulthood. Immune challenges during development affected adult immune function and interacted with carotenoid physiology during adulthood, but did not affect adult beak coloration. Dietary access to carotenoids during development, but not adulthood, also affected adult immune function. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of the developmental stage in shaping certain survival-related traits (i.e., immune function), and lead to further questions regarding the development of ornamental traits.

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Date Created
2012

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Breaking the senescence: inhibition of ATM allows S9 cells to re-enter cell cycle

Description

The Philadelphia chromosome in humans, is on oncogenic translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 that gives rise to the fusion protein BCR-Abl. This protein is constitutively active resulting in rapid and uncontrolled cell growth in affected cells. The BCR-Abl protein

The Philadelphia chromosome in humans, is on oncogenic translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 that gives rise to the fusion protein BCR-Abl. This protein is constitutively active resulting in rapid and uncontrolled cell growth in affected cells. The BCR-Abl protein is the hallmark feature of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and is seen in Philadelphia-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases. Currently, the first line of treatment is the Abl specific inhibitor Imatinib. Some patients will, however, develop resistance to Imatinib. Research has shown how transformation of progenitor B cells with v-Abl, an oncogene expressed by the Abelson murine leukemia virus, causes rapid proliferation, prevents further differentiation and produces a potentially malignant transformation. We have used progenitor B cells transformed with a temperature-sensitive form of the v-Abl protein that allows us to inactivate or re-activate v-Abl by shifting the incubation temperature. We are trying to use this line as a model to study both the progression from pre-malignancy to malignancy in CML and Imatinib resistance in Ph+ ALL and CML. These progenitor B cells, once v-Abl is reactivated, in most cases, will not return to their natural cell cycle. In this they resemble Ph+ ALL and CML under Imatinib treatment. With some manipulation these cells can break this prolonged G1 arrested phenotype and become a malignant cell line and resistant to Imatinib treatment. Cellular senescence can be a complicated process requiring inter-play between a variety of players. It serves as an alternate option to apoptosis, in that the cell loses proliferative potential, but does not die. Treatment with some cancer therapeutics will induce senescence in some cancers. Such is the case with Imatinib treatment of CML and Ph+ ALL. By using the S9 cell line we have been able to explore the possible routes for breaking of prolonged G1 arrest in these Ph+ leukemias. We inhibited the DNA damage sensor protein ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and found that prolonged G1 arrest in our S9 cells was broken. While previous research has suggested that the DNA damage sensor protein ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) has little impact in CML, our research indicates that ATM may play a role in either senescence induction or release.

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Date Created
2011

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Improving expression vectors for recombinant protein production in plants

Description

Over the past decade, several high-value proteins have been produced using plant-based transient expression systems. However, these studies exposed some limitations that must be overcome to allow plant expression systems to reach their full potential. These limitations are the low

Over the past decade, several high-value proteins have been produced using plant-based transient expression systems. However, these studies exposed some limitations that must be overcome to allow plant expression systems to reach their full potential. These limitations are the low level of recombinant protein accumulation achieved in some cases, and lack of efficient co-expression vectors for the production of multi-protein complexes. This study report that tobacco Extensin (Ext) gene 3' untranslated region (UTR) can be broadly used to enhance recombinant protein expression in plants. Extensin is the hydroxyproline-rich glycoprotein that constitutes the major protein component of cell walls. Using transient expression, it was found that the Ext 3' UTR increases recombinant protein expression up to 13.5- and 6-fold in non-replicating and replicating vector systems, respectively, compared to previously established terminators. Enhanced protein accumulation was correlated with increased mRNA levels associated with reduction in read-through transcription. Regions of Ext 3' UTR essential for maximum gene expression included a poly-purine sequence used as a major poly-adenylation site. Furthermore, modified bean yellow dwarf virus (BeYDV)-based vectors designed to allow co-expression of multiple recombinant genes were constructed and tested for their performance in driving transient expression in plants. Robust co-expression and assembly of heavy and light chains of the anti-Ebola virus monoclonal antibody 6D8, as well as E. coli heat-labile toxin (LT) were achieved with the modified vectors. The simultaneous co-expression of three fluoroproteins using the single replicon, triple cassette is demonstrated by confocal microscopy. In conclusion, this study provides an excellent tool for rapid, cost-effective, large-scale manufacturing of recombinant proteins for use in medicine and industry.

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Date Created
2012

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Immunosignature of Alzheimer's disease

Description

The goal of this thesis is to test whether Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with distinctive humoral immune changes that can be detected in plasma and tracked across time. This is relevant because AD is the principal cause of dementia,

The goal of this thesis is to test whether Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with distinctive humoral immune changes that can be detected in plasma and tracked across time. This is relevant because AD is the principal cause of dementia, and yet, no specific diagnostic tests are universally employed in clinical practice to predict, diagnose or monitor disease progression. In particular, I describe herein a proteomic platform developed at the Center for Innovations in Medicine (CIM) consisting of a slide with 10.000 random-sequence peptides printed on its surface, which is used as the solid phase of an immunoassay where antibodies of interest are allowed to react and subsequently detected with a labeled secondary antibody. The pattern of antibody binding to the microarray is unique for each individual animal or person. This thesis will evaluate the versatility of the microarray platform and how it can be used to detect and characterize the binding patterns of antibodies relevant to the pathophysiology of AD as well as the plasma samples of animal models of AD and elderly humans with or without dementia. My specific aims were to evaluate the emergence and stability of immunosignature in mice with cerebral amyloidosis, and characterize the immunosignature of humans with AD. Plasma samples from APPswe/PSEN1-dE9 transgenic mice were evaluated longitudinally from 2 to 15 months of age to compare the evolving immunosignature with non-transgenic control mice. Immunological variation across different time-points was assessed, with particular emphasis on time of emergence of a characteristic pattern. In addition, plasma samples from AD patients and age-matched individuals without dementia were assayed on the peptide microarray and binding patterns were compared. It is hoped that these experiments will be the basis for a larger study of the diagnostic merits of the microarray-based immunoassay in dementia clinics.

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Date Created
2011

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Cancer autoantibody biomarker discovery and validation using nucleic acid programmable protein array

Description

Currently in the US, many patients with cancer do not benefit from the population-based screening, due to challenges associated with the existing cancer screening scheme. Blood-based diagnostic assays have the potential to detect diseases in a non-invasive way. Proteins released

Currently in the US, many patients with cancer do not benefit from the population-based screening, due to challenges associated with the existing cancer screening scheme. Blood-based diagnostic assays have the potential to detect diseases in a non-invasive way. Proteins released from small early tumors may only be present intermittently and get diluted to tiny concentrations in the blood, making them difficult to use as biomarkers. However, they can induce autoantibody (AAb) responses, which can amplify the signal and persist in the blood even if the antigen is gone. Circulating autoantibodies is a promising class of molecules that have potential to serve as early detection biomarkers for cancers. This Ph.D thesis aims to screen for autoantibody biomarkers for the early detection of two deadly cancer, basal-like breast cancer and lung adenocarcinoma. First, a method was developed to display proteins in both native and denatured conformation on protein array. This method adopted a novel protein tag technology, called HaloTag, to covalently immobilize proteins on glass slide surface. The covalent attachment allowed these proteins to endure harsh treatment without getting dissociated from slide surface, which enabled the profiling of antibody responses against both conformational and linear epitopes. Next, a plasma screening protocol was optimized to significantly increase signal to noise ratio of protein array based AAb detection. Following this, the AAb responses in basal-like breast cancer were explored using nucleic acid programmable protein arrays (NAPPA) containing 10,000 full-length human proteins in 45 cases and 45 controls. After verification in a large sample set (145 basal-like breast cancer cases / 145 controls / 70 non-basal breast cancer) by ELISA, a 13-AAb classifier was developed to differentiate patients from controls with a sensitivity of 33% at 98% specificity. Similar approach was also applied to the lung cancer study to identify AAbs that distinguished lung cancer patients from computed-tomography positive benign pulmonary nodules (137 lung cancer cases, 127 smoker controls, 170 benign controls). In this study, two panels of AAbs were discovered that showed promising sensitivity and specificity. Six out of eight AAb targets were also found to have elevated mRNA level in lung adenocarcinoma patients using TCGA data. These projects as a whole provide novel insights on the association between AAbs and cancer, as well as general B cell antigenicity against self-proteins.

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Date Created
2015

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Tracking the humoral immune response in type 1 diabetes

Description

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by progressive autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. Genetic, immunological and environmental factors contribute to T1D development. The focus of this dissertation is to track the humoral immune response in

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by progressive autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. Genetic, immunological and environmental factors contribute to T1D development. The focus of this dissertation is to track the humoral immune response in T1D by profiling autoantibodies (AAbs) and anti-viral antibodies using an innovative protein array platform called Nucleic Acid Programmable Protein Array (NAPPA).

AAbs provide value in identifying individuals at risk, stratifying patients with different clinical courses, improving our understanding of autoimmune destructions, identifying antigens for cellular immune response and providing candidates for prevention trials in T1D. A two-stage serological AAb screening against 6,000 human proteins was performed. A dual specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 2 (DYRK2) was validated with 36% sensitivity at 98% specificity by an orthogonal immunoassay. This is the first systematic screening for novel AAbs against large number of human proteins by protein arrays in T1D. A more comprehensive search for novel AAbs was performed using a knowledge-based approach by ELISA and a screening-based approach against 10,000 human proteins by NAPPA. Six AAbs were identified and validated with sensitivities ranged from 16% to 27% at 95% specificity. These two studies enriched the T1D “autoantigenome” and provided insights into T1D pathophysiology in an unprecedented breadth and width.

The rapid rise of T1D incidence suggests the potential involvement of environmental factors including viral infections. Sero-reactivity to 646 viral antigens was assessed in new-onset T1D patients. Antibody positive rate of EBV was significantly higher in cases than controls that suggested a potential role of EBV in T1D development. A high density-NAPPA platform was demonstrated with high reproducibility and sensitivity in profiling anti-viral antibodies.

This dissertation shows the power of a protein-array based immunoproteomics approach to characterize humoral immunoprofile against human and viral proteomes. The identification of novel T1D-specific AAbs and T1D-associated viruses will help to connect the nodes in T1D etiology and provide better understanding of T1D pathophysiology.

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Date Created
2015

DNA nanostructure as a scaffold for immunological applications

Description

DNA nanotechnology has been a rapidly growing research field in the recent decades, and there have been extensive efforts to construct various types of highly programmable and robust DNA nanostructures. Due to the advantage that DNA nanostructure can be used

DNA nanotechnology has been a rapidly growing research field in the recent decades, and there have been extensive efforts to construct various types of highly programmable and robust DNA nanostructures. Due to the advantage that DNA nanostructure can be used to organize biochemical molecules with precisely controlled spatial resolution, herein we used DNA nanostructure as a scaffold for biological applications. Targeted cell-cell interaction was reconstituted through a DNA scaffolded multivalent bispecific aptamer, which may lead to promising potentials in tumor therapeutics. In addition a synthetic vaccine was constructed using DNA nanostructure as a platform to assemble both model antigen and immunoadjuvant together, and strong antibody response was demonstrated in vivo, highlighting the potential of DNA nanostructures to serve as a new platform for vaccine construction, and therefore a DNA scaffolded hapten vaccine is further constructed and tested for its antibody response. Taken together, my research demonstrated the potential of DNA nanostructure to serve as a general platform for immunological applications.

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Date Created
2012

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Investigation of tumor frame shift antigens for prophylactic cancer vaccine, cancer detection and tumorigenicity

Description

Cancer is one of the most serious global diseases. We have focused on cancer immunoprevention. My thesis projects include developing a prophylactic primary and metastatic cancer vaccines, early cancer detection and investigation of genes involved in tumor development. These studies

Cancer is one of the most serious global diseases. We have focused on cancer immunoprevention. My thesis projects include developing a prophylactic primary and metastatic cancer vaccines, early cancer detection and investigation of genes involved in tumor development. These studies were focused on frame-shift (FS) antigens. The FS antigens are generated by genomic mutations or abnormal RNA processing, which cause a portion of a normal protein to be translated out of frame. The concept of the prophylactic cancer vaccine is to develop a general cancer vaccine that could prevent healthy people from developing different types of cancer. We have discovered a set of cancer specific FS antigens. One of the FS candidates, structural maintenance of chromosomes protein 1A (SMC1A) FS, could start to accumulate at early stages of tumor and be specifically exposed to the immune system by tumor cells. Prophylactic immunization with SMC1A-FS could significantly inhibit primary tumor development in different murine tumor models and also has the potential to inhibit tumor metastasis. The SMC1A-FS transcript was detected in the plasma of the 4T1/BALB/c mouse tumor model. The tumor size was correlated with the transcript ratio of the SMC1A-FS verses the WT in plasma, which could be measured by regular RT-PCR. This unique cancer biomarker has a practical potential for a large population cancer screen, as well as clinical tumor monitoring. With a set of mimotope peptides, antibodies against SMC1A-FS peptide were detected in different cancer patients, including breast cancer, pancreas cancer and lung cancer with a 53.8%, 56.5% and 12.5% positive rate respectively. This suggested that the FS antibody could be a biomarker for early cancer detection. The characterization of SMC1A suggested that: First, the deficiency of the SMC1A is common in different tumors and able to promote tumor initiation and development; second, the FS truncated protein may have nucleolus function in normal cells. Mis-control of this protein may promote tumor development. In summary, we developed a systematic general cancer prevention strategy through the variety immunological and molecular methods. The results gathered suggest the SMC1A-FS may be useful for the detection and prevention of cancer.

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Date Created
2012

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Bowties, barcodes, and DNA origami: a novel approach for paired-chain immune receptor repertoire analysis

Description

There are many biological questions that require single-cell analysis of gene sequences, including analysis of clonally distributed dimeric immunoreceptors on lymphocytes (T cells and B cells) and/or the accumulation of driver/accessory mutations in polyclonal tumors. Lysis of bulk cell populations

There are many biological questions that require single-cell analysis of gene sequences, including analysis of clonally distributed dimeric immunoreceptors on lymphocytes (T cells and B cells) and/or the accumulation of driver/accessory mutations in polyclonal tumors. Lysis of bulk cell populations results in mixing of gene sequences, making it impossible to know which pairs of gene sequences originated from any particular cell and obfuscating analysis of rare sequences within large populations. Although current single-cell sorting technologies can be used to address some of these questions, such approaches are expensive, require specialized equipment, and lack the necessary high-throughput capacity for comprehensive analysis. Water-in-oil emulsion approaches for single cell sorting have been developed but droplet-based single-cell lysis and analysis have proven inefficient and yield high rates of false pairings. Ideally, molecular approaches for linking gene sequences from individual cells could be coupled with next-generation high-throughput sequencing to overcome these obstacles, but conventional approaches for linking gene sequences, such as by transfection with bridging oligonucleotides, result in activation of cellular nucleases that destroy the template, precluding this strategy. Recent advances in the synthesis and fabrication of modular deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) origami nanostructures have resulted in new possibilities for addressing many current and long-standing scientific and technical challenges in biology and medicine. One exciting application of DNA nanotechnology is the intracellular capture, barcode linkage, and subsequent sequence analysis of multiple messenger RNA (mRNA) targets from individual cells within heterogeneous cell populations. DNA nanostructures can be transfected into individual cells to capture and protect mRNA for specific expressed genes, and incorporation of origami-specific bowtie-barcodes into the origami nanostructure facilitates pairing and analysis of mRNA from individual cells by high-throughput next-generation sequencing. This approach is highly modular and can be adapted to virtually any two (and possibly more) gene target sequences, and therefore has a wide range of potential applications for analysis of diverse cell populations such as understanding the relationship between different immune cell populations, development of novel immunotherapeutic antibodies, or improving the diagnosis or treatment for a wide variety of cancers.

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Date Created
2017